Live: The Computers – The Rainbow Birmingham, 23/5/13

They say that every generation thinks it’s invented Rock and Roll. Me, I think it just keeps coming round again, a little bit better each time. The Computers are something fairly special. Their 2011’s “This is the Computers” kinda set the standard for skinny-legged 100-mile an hour rocky punk. “Music is Dead” was one of the ace-est tracks I heard that year by a long stretch. Some have suggested that their new one – Love Triangles, Hate Squares – is a departure. More mainstream sound, easy listening and Amazon-friendly than their previous output. This is not a review of that album. This is a review of their performance at the venue at the far end of the artsy drag in Birmingham’s Digbeth (The Rainbow). But this does all kind of come into it.

Afraid to say I totally missed the support act – the Dead Formats. Hands up. However, saw them a few years back in Leamington and they’re a really good neo-proto-punk/pub rock outfit – Kinks riffs, but look utterly shitnails hard (I think they’re from Canvey Island or Southend or somewhere similar) and have a certain bearing. So I’m sure (and have been told) they did a decent turn. Not going to argue with that. The new stuff sounds great, too. Sorry chaps. Complicated story to do with the M40.

And so. The Computers. 5 skinny boys from Devon in matching shiny suits. Think Rocket From the Crypt, but fresher faced and somehow undeniably English-looking. And very dapper they all looked, too. I think the Rainbow’s gig space was made for them. The way the lighting gantry and the communion rail thing they have by the stage are set up is ideal for the lounging and writhing their pocket rocket front man goes in for. He spent half the set literally hanging off the gantry, writhing, and a decent part of the rest in amongst the audience. (He’s a mean little mosher too. All elbows and a hard, sweaty head).

Musically tight, they hammered out all of the strongest tracks on their new album and some of the older, punkier stuff (including Music is Deeeeadddddd!!!). I don’t know whether it was just the quality of the mixing but the sound was (genuinely) crisp and note-perfect. And all led along nicely by the saucily grinding little monkey man in the suit with the guitar – and one of the best screams in music right now.

And this is where the rock and roll comes in. Yes, they are still a band properly steeped in punk – raucous and individualistic – but there was a hell of a lot of Jerry Lee Lewis or Little Richard in their performance. The ever-jiggling right legs, the unashamed balladeering of say, Mr Saturday Night switching to full throttle piano-key driven rock’n’rollers like “Disco Sucks”… every generation rediscovers something great that the ones before left behind and puts a new spin on it. Looks like these guys found theirs in Sun Records – live at least. There’s a load of other retro hooks in the album – from Motown to 70’s garage. Check it out.

I was also entertained by the capering antics of the Kerrang DJ Matt Stocks and his crew (he’s a cute little fellow, too. And looks about 14). Good to see a man involved in these things professionally so obviously going off to his music.

So – in sum – their new album is a bit soft in parts, and possibly too soft for some, but they’ve lost none of their poke live.

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